With its location on the rugged Isle of Skye and its distinctively maritime flavours, it’s no wonder that Talisker is closely associated with the wild ocean it overlooks – something it seeks to celebrate and preserve through its every action. Whether it’s the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – a gruelling annual rowing race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua – or its Rewild our Seas partnership with Parley, designed to protect huge swathes of imperilled marine life, Talisker and its collection of rare and trailblazing single malts always evokes the sea.
Talisker has partnered with Parley for the Oceans, a forum for discussion and collaboration on solving environmental issues, on a three-year project that seeks to restore and protect underwater forests on coastlines.
The project will start with the coastline around the Talisker distillery on Skye, focusing on preserving the kelp forests therein which not only buffer the coastline from ocean storms, but are also so crucial to regulating the water’s pH, harbouring microorganisms, sequestering carbon dioxide and housing and nourishing marine life.
From there the project will expand to collaborate with non-profit organisations across the world on preserving 100 million square metres of marine ecosystems by 2023. This will involve providing research grants, conducting research expeditions and introducing initiatives which raise further funds for this important cause.
The last expression in Talisker’s adventurous collaboration with global environmental organisation Parley also marks the distillery’s first ever release of a 45-year-old single malt. To create this monumental whisky, 12 heavily charred casks were taken on a voyage to the frozen beauty of the Canadian glacial ice fields, where they were placed on the frozen land and exposed to the biting Arctic winds for 96 hours. Enduring icy temperatures and heavy snowfall, these casks took on a new character that made an ideal finish for this rare whisky.
Rich, dry and mellow, with a light peppery prickle. Clear maritime top notes speak of seaweed and iodine; their glacial mineral companions suggest slaked lime and salt crystals. Below, complex sweet aromas hint at dried fruits and creamy vanilla, bringing depth and richness. Light smoke threads the background, touched by aromatic sandalwood.
The texture is wondrously oil-smooth and mouth-filling; the taste starts toffee-sweet then becomes mouth-wateringly salty and increasingly peppery; even at this age there is a strinking intensity to it, and a fine chilli ‘catch’. A dash of water integrates these taste, and an attractive saltiness to the toffee then suggests salted caramels, with slightly less pepper.
Very long, with a glorious chilli pepper effect and a trace of candle wax. This grows in the aftertaste, in which both saltiness and pepper also persist. Saltier if water is added, with less pepper and faint scented smoke.
Out Of Stock
The story of this exceptional whisky begins with an expedition to the ‘Great African Sea Forest’ off the Cape of Good Hope – undertaken as part of the Rewild our Seas partnership between Talisker and Parley. Aboard the mission yacht were scientists, filmmakers and a cargo of oak staves. After returning to Scotland, these globetrotting timbers were formed into ten casks and charred using sustainably sourced kelp before being filled with rare Talisker single malt.
True to a Talisker of age, the nose is mellow overall, with a peppery prickle that yields slowly to rich maritime top notes with traces of seaweed, salt crystals and warmed oak, over sweeter wafts of lemon zest and toffee. Beneath these scents lie intriguing layers of aroma; hints of canvas, brine-licked sea air and a distant beach bonfire.
Really long, with soft traces of candle wax as a sweet chilli-pepper warmth suffuses the palate, becoming mouth-cooling if water is added.
To create Xpedition Oak, Talisker sent some barrel staves off on a trans-Atlantic journey with adventurer James Aiken, who single-handedly followed the same route travelled by the teams in Talisker’s 3264-mile rowing challenge. These staves were then inserted into 10 casks of whisky aged for more than four decades, creating a unique finishing process that further infused the whisky with the spirit of the sea. Each bottle – of which there are 1830 in homage to the foundation date of the distillery – is packaged with a piece of these staves.
Mellow overall and slightly spicy, with a fruity top note of bruised apple and smooth, aromatic hint of wax. Beneath these scents lie intriguing rich layers of aroma; notes of canvas and varnished wood mingle with maritime hints of sea-air and warm sand, all swirling above a faintly smoky and waxy base.
A smooth texture and a vibrant, juicy start introduce a sweet, rich intensity with a fresh, balancing splash of ocean salt spray. The effect becomes lightly drying before Talisker’s peppery warmth envelops the palate. Mesmerising overall, it cascades with smooth, rich flavour and is excellent to drink neat.
Wonderfully long, with a considerable sweet chili-pepper warmth that suffuses the whole palate.
Founded in 1830, Talisker is one of the best-known whisky distilleries in Scotland. Part of Diageo's Classic Malts series, it is one of the company's most important brands, famed for its intense, smoky and peppery style.
There have been a number of new releases over the past few years, but the 10 Year Old remains a benchmark among Scottish single malts.
Talisker Natural Cask StrengthSpecial Releases 2023
(£171.43 per litre)
Talisker 10 Year Old
(£60.36 per litre)
(£64.64 per litre)
(£64.21 per litre)
Talisker Port RuighePort Finish
(£81.36 per litre)
Talisker x Parley Wilder SeasCognac Finish
(£105.36 per litre)